The latest DairyCo figures confirm that those Irish companies exporting cheese on to the UK market have backed a winner, in the wake of cheese sales throughout Britain strengthening considerably over the past 12 months.

Figures recently compiled for the calendar year indicate that total cheese expenditure has increased by 2.4 per cent to just under £2.8bn sterling following an increase in both the volume sold and the average price of cheese. The average price of a kilo of cheese has increased by 1.2 per cent to €7.91 per kilo. Volume sales have increased by 1.2 per cent year on year (YOY) to 419,877 tonnes

In addition, branded cheddar volumes have decreased by 5.2 per cent YOY, while private label cheddar volumes are up 6.1 per cent over the same period. Significantly, the price of branded cheddar has increased by 2.8 per cent YOY to €8.73 per kilo  while private label cheddar has increased by 0.7 per cent YOY to €7.36kg. On average, branded cheddar is €1.37 dearer per kg than private label Cheddar.

Volume sales for Mature Cheddar, which accounts for just under half (48 per cent) of Cheddar volume sales in the UK, grew by 0.4 per cent YOY, while mild volumes declined 3.3 per cent year on year. Extra mature Cheddar, although only 20 per cent of total Cheddar sales, saw volume growth of 1.0 per cent.

The latest figures from Kantar Worldpanel show that cheese volume sales have increased by 1.2% to 419,877 tonnes in the 52 weeks ending 5 January 2014. Household penetration remains high, with 98.7 per cent of all GB households purchasing cheese over the year. Volume growth, which represents an extra 4,970 tonnes, has come from people purchasing more cheese per trip, with the average consumer purchasing 0.46kg of cheese per trip. The total average price is currently €7.91 per kg, an increase of 1.2 per cent on the year, which has helped to increase total expenditure by 2.4% YOY, to £2.76 billion.

Pre-packed cheese has recorded value growth (2.6 per cent) and volume growth (1.1 per cent) over the year, with volume growth being driven by a slight increase in volume per trip. Hard discounters have been key growth areas for pre-packed cheese, with both volume growth (20.3 per cent) and value growth (18.3 per cent) compared to last year. Loose cheese, which accounts for 4.6 per cent of cheese volumes, has seen an increase in volume of 4.1 per cent, triggered by a rise in volumes bought per trip (up 6.8 per cent). However, with a four per cent decline in average prices, the rise in volume sales has not yet been reflected in an increase in expenditure, with a decrease of 0.1 per cent YOY.